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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 21 December 2010

The Chicago Bulls exploded to a 121 -76  win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at the United Center.  The Bulls beat up on Philly on both ends of the court, holding the Sixers to 35% shooting while connecting on 65% of their own shots.

The Bulls got off to a 33-19 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.  They won the 3rd quarter by 20.  They were once winning by 51.

Luol Deng and Derrick Rose led all scorers with 22 points, in only three quarters of action.  Rose added 12 assists and 5 rebounds, with a 42 plus-minus.
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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 20 December 2010

Before the Bulls host the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night at the United Center, the front office has some thinking to do.

Already without Joakim Noah, the Bulls lost Taj Gibson to a concussion in Saturday night's loss to the Clippers.  Gibson started for the injured Noah, but was only able to play nine minutes.  The status of Gibson is unknown, but he could miss a few games.  Without Gibson, the Bulls are down to three post players.  If one of them get into foul trouble, the Bulls would be over matched on the glass.  Do you think Thibodeau was on the phone with Rasheed Wallace sometime this weekend?  It remains to be seen if the Bulls go after a big, but they may need to based on pure need.

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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 17 December 2010

Just as everything was clicking...

Joakim Noah will miss the next 6-8 weeks due to surgery on his right hand.  The surgery will re-attach the tendon Noah tore around his thumb.  Apparently, Noah was playing with the pain for the last month.   This comes minutes after the Bulls won their seventh straight game.

Although it was an unfortunate time, it's certainly better than it happening in February or March.   It was also a good move to have Noah repair it now, as they are wise to protect their 5/$60 center.  

We already know the impact of Noah has on the court, as one of the best defensive players in the East.   Others say the team will miss his emotional leadership, but I don't know how much that affects the players, especially since Joakim will probably travel to some games.

So the obvious question is, who will replace Noah?  

I don't think you can replace him, but you can fill the void nicely.  There's Taj Gibson, one of the NBA's top 6th man, who can defend and score like a starter, and will see starters minutes.  There's Omer Asik, who started nicely, but seems to have problems when he has to defend without fouling.  Kurt Thomas is still around, and he filled in admirably for Andrew Bogut last year for the Bucks as they made their playoff run.  With those guys, I don't think you need to make a move right away, and it looks as if the Bulls will go with that to start.

But that doesn't mean it will stay that way.  GM Gar Forman already told the media that he's explored options.  Who would be available?

Nick Friedell has his ideas, and some are intriguing, especially Rasheed Wallace.  He would probably come cheap, and is a low-risk move for the Bulls.  I think he's better than Asik is right now, and can help stretch the floor.  When Noah returns, he could still see 10 minutes a night, and more if the Bulls get into foul trouble.  I don't know what kind of shape he's in, but if he can play, why not give it a shot?  The fans will definitely mention Wallace's veteran leadership, and his knowledge of what it takes to be a champion.

As for Friedell's other ideas, Chris Richard was thrown out there.  He's playing in China, and I don't know if Richard would jump in the middle of the season.  I don't know what his contract situation is.  In any case, he would probably be added just in case of foul trouble or additional injuries.  Pass.

Joel Prysbilla is another intriguing name.  He's strong defensively, but doesn't really provide much of anything on the other side of the ball.  The Bulls would have trouble bringing in a $7.5 million salary, even though it expires at the end of the season.  And Prysbilla isn't the best bet to stay healthy.  I'd pass.

So, unless it's Wallace, I don't see a reason to go after a center...yet.  If Asik proves to be horrible, yes, go get someone.  Until then, see what you got.

 Out of the next 34 games, the Bulls will play 26 games against teams with losing records.  So Gar, I appreciate you working the phones to see what's available, but don't feel that a move is necessary.   no comments

Written by Marco Radenkovich | 15 December 2010

 The Bulls sit atop the Central division at 15-8, and the main reason is the play of Derrick Rose.  With Carlos Boozer missing the first 15 games with a broken hand, Rose stepped up and led the Bulls to a 9-6 record, including a 4-3 record on the circus trip.  But should he be considered with the best in the league?
 
He's averaging 24.7 points per game, 8.3 assists per game, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.  He's improved his three-point shooting to 42%, hitting 15 of his last 25.  He's becoming the Bulls best clutch player, getting a bucket whenever the team needs, or sending games to overtime (Phoenix, Houston). 
 
Talent-wise, he's most definitely elite, and one of the bright young stars in the league.  He can get to the rim almost whenever he wants, due to his quickness and strength.  He has shown a commitment to defense unlike ever before.  He's able to elevate and grab rebounds over taller defenders due to his superior leaping ability.  He's completely changing the point guard position in the NBA.
 
But a deeper look into his statistics shows that he's not elite.  John Hollinger had an article on ESPN discussing Rose, and his inability to get fouls.  Since it was an insider article, I'm not going to post what he said, but the premise was that Rose needed to get to the line more. 
 
Casual basketball fans will disagree with this, and say "now you're just being picky."  But when you think about it, Hollinger is right.  Derrick is shooting 58% on shots around the rim.  If you take the 58% and multiply it by 2 points, you get 1.19 points.  If you take Derrick's FT percentage at 77%, and multiply it by 2, you get 1.54 points.  It's better for Derrick to get fouled than to not get fouled. 
 
Also, his inability to get to the line affects his TS% or true shooting percentage.  True shooting percentage takes into account all shots taken - two-point field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws.  The three different shots are weighted based on difficulty to come to a percentage.  Based on Hollinger's numbers, Derrick had a lower TS% than all the elite point guards - Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and even Rajon Rondo, who is not regarded as a good shooter.  Why is Rondo better?  He gets to the line more, and free throws are the easiest of the three components of TS%. 
 
Now, the conversation we've had on this site is that Derrick needs to get more calls.  In regards to fouls, his biggest strength is his biggest vice.  Because he's so quick and strong, he has the body control to finish even with contact, even though he tries to avoid it.  That body control fools refs, and doesn't see the offensive player affected.  So what should Derrick do?  I'm not saying to purposely barge into a player, but maybe force additional contact to get a call or two. 
 
I'm not trying to diminish what Rose has been able to do this year.  He's been incredible.  When I made my season prediction, I predicted Rose at 26 points per game, and around 10 FT's attempted per game.  He's hovering around 5.  If he can get to the line an extra two times per game, he's going to be the MVP.  There's no doubt in my mind.  The field for MVP is weak this year, as Durant has struggled, Paul has come down a little, and LeBron and Wade are sharing the ball. 
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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 13 December 2010

The Indiana Pacers travel to frigid Chicago to play the Bulls tonight, in a battle of the top two teams in the Central division standings. 

 You know about the Bulls hotstreak, and much of that has to do with the play of Derrick Rose.  After Saturday night's three-point clinic, he's now shooting 41% from three, and 64% during the five-game win streak.  He's showing why his name is in MVP consideration already this season.
 
But the most impressive part of the streak, to me, has been the defense.  The Bulls have held their opponents to under 90 points in the last four games, and under 40% shooting.  Many were wondering about Tom Thibodeau's defensive style, and are finally starting to see what the team can do when they're locked in defensively.  Defense was the key to the win Friday night vs. the Lakers, in which the Bulls scored only 32 first-half points.
 
The Pacers come in losing their last four on the road.  They managed only 83 points against the Pacers, and Danny Granger was shut down, shooting 3-14 from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts.
 
One of the hottest Pacers has been shooting guard Brandon Rush.  The former lottery pick is starting to fill it up for Indiana, and is shooting over 50% from three in his last four games.
 

Probable Bulls Starters | Roster and Statistics

Guard 1 Derrick Rose 6-3 | 190
Guard 6 Keith Bogans 6-5 | 215
Forward 9 Luol Deng 6-9 | 220
Forward 5 Carlos Boozer 6-9 | 266
Center 13 Joakim Noah 6-11 | 232

Probable Pacers Starters | Roster and Statistics

Guard 2 Darren Collison 6-0 | 170
Guard 17 Mike Dunleavy 6-9 | 230
Forward 33 Danny Granger 6-9 | 228
Forward 32 Josh McRoberts 6-10 | 240
Center 55 Roy Hibbert 7-2 | 260

 

TV/Radio:

 7:00 WCIU and ESPN 1000
 

Prediction:

 ESPN's simulation has the Bulls winning by 9, but I think the Bulls should blow out the Pacers.  Bulls with a 105-89 win over the Pacers, continuing the win-streak and keeps the Bulls defensive streak of allowing less than 90 points going. no comments

Written by Mike Loszach | 11 December 2010

There isn’t a whole lot to really say about this one. The Bulls dominated this game from the opening tip to the final whistle which is evident by the 113-82 final score. It was nice to see the Bulls avoid the letdown factor. They refused to play down to their opponent, burying the Timberwolves in the first half, outscoring them by 21 points.

Once again Derrick Rose led the way for the Bulls. It looked too easy for the Bulls point guard tonight. He scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, which included making 5-of-6 3PT shots. He also dished out seven assists and was serenaded by Bulls fans and their “MVP!” chant all night long. Luol Deng scored 19 points and Carlos Boozer added 17 points to complement Rose. Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson both added 12 points off the bench. Kevin Love was once again very impressive for the Timberwolves in a losing effort, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

The most encouraging thing for the Bulls lately may very well be their defense. Over the last 4 games against Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Minnesota no opponent has topped 90 points and only the Lakers shot better than 40%. If Tom Thibodeau can continue to get this team to play solid defense they will be very dangerous as they have plenty of weapons offensively.


Central Division Update:

The Bulls have won 5 in a row and the Indiana Pacers have lost 4 of their last 6. This has given the Bulls a nice little 3 game cushion in the standings. The two teams will play in Chicago on Monday in a game that probably means more to the Pacers than it does to the Bulls.

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Written by Mike Loszach | 11 December 2010

The Bulls will be hoping to avoid a let-down tonight against the woeful Timberwolves after their big win last night against the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Timberwolves are also playing the back end of a back-to-back after beating the Detroit Pistons 109-99 last night. Despite that win, they are still only 2-8 in their last 10 games.

Minnesota’s strength is their post players – Kevin Love and Michael Beasley. They lead in the NBA in rebounding, thanks in large part to Kevin Love. Love is averaging 20.4 PPG and 15.7 RPG while Michael Beasley is averaging 21.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG. I think the key to this game will be the ability of Noah, Boozer, and Gibson to limit the production that comes from these two players.

Probable Timberwolves Starters:

G – Luke Ridnour, 11.1 PPG

G – Wesley Johnson, 9.2 PPG

F – Michael Beasley, 21.5 PPG

F – Kevin Love, 20.4 PPG

C – Darko Milicic, 9.3 PPG


Probable Bulls Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 25.3 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 4.1 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 17.8 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 14.2 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 14.5 PPG


Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-9.5), Over/Under: 207

There really isn’t much not to like about the Bulls in this matchup. Both teams are playing the back end of a back-to-back so there is no advantage there. Similar to the Cleveland game, this appears to be a game featuring two teams heading in opposite directions. The Bulls have won 4 in a row, while the T-Wolves have lost 8 of their last 10. Additionally, the Bulls have played very well at home this season, winning 8 out of 10, while Minnesota has been dreadful on the road, losing 11 of 12. The only worry for Bulls fans has to be the let down factor after such a big win last night, but hopefully they learn from the experience in Cleveland don’t play down to their opponent. I think the Bulls post players will do enough to keep Love and Beasley from winning the game. After those two, Minnesota really doesn’t have much.

Timberwolves 87 Bulls 101

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Written by Mike Loszach | 11 December 2010

Derrick Rose was the story last night for the Chicago Bulls in their 88-84 victory over the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. Rose led the way for the Bulls offensively scoring 29 points, dishing out 9 assists, and knocking down 3-of-5 shots from behind the arc. It wasn’t just the numbers Derrick put up that was impressive, but when he put them up. It is clear that the Bulls have their superstar go-to guy that fans have been wanting for all these years. Every time the Bulls needed a fourth quarter bucket, Rose was more than happy to take the shot. It didn’t matter if it was a contested jump shot from the corner with the shot clock winding down, a drive to the lane with the lead down to 4 and the fans getting restless, or a step back jumper with the lead down to 3 in the final minute of the game: Derrick Rose was going to take and make these shots.

The first 18 or so minutes of the game may have been the ugliest stretch of basketball the Bulls have played all season. There appeared to be a lid on the basket as they didn’t seem able to get anything to go down. They missed dunks, layups, and wide open jumpers and also made several frustrating turnovers. Watching the game, I found myself constantly saying “I can’t believe we’re only down 10 or so points.” Our defense kept us in it and eventually the offense got hot with a late 1st half run giving the Bulls a 4-point half time lead and all the momentum going in to the locker room. There was no looking back from that point on.


Besides Rose, the Bulls also got solid efforts from Carlos Boozer (10 PTS, 11 REB), Joakim Noah (9 PTS, 9 REB), and Kyle Korver (13 PTS, 3-for-6 3PT FG). Kobe Bryant scored 23 points on 9-of-23 shooting in the losing effort.

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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 08 December 2010

Throughout the summer, and even into the regular season, the Bulls were connected to rumors with Portland Trail Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez.  Fernandez was unhappy with playing time in Portland, and was considering a move back to Spain.  The Bulls were listening to what the Blazers were looking for, but ultimately passed on the 25 year-old guard when GM Rich Cho asked for a first-round pick.  It was a good move to pass on Fernandez.

But 20 games in, the Bulls biggest need is still at the shooting guard position.  Keith Bogans isn't good at basketball anymore, Ronny Brewer has an inconsistent offensive game, and Kyle Korver is a shooting specialist and is best limited to 20-25 minutes a game.  

While the Bulls find themselves in a playoff race, the Memphis Grizzlies find themselves at 8-14 and quickly falling out of the race.  The Grizz were a popular pick for the playoffs, with Rudy Gay returning to a join solid core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo.  Turns out Mayo isn't exactly part of the core anymore.  The former 3rd overall pick has been coming off of the bench while rookie Xavier Henry starts.  With recent extensions to Gay and Conley, the Grizzlies are looking to move some salary for flexibility in the future.  

I'm under the impression that Mayo is available, and would be moved if the Grizzlies brass gets the right offer.

Let's make the assumption that he is available in order to move salary and acquire pieces for the future.  Are the Bulls a match?  The Bulls assets are their first round pick, Taj Gibson and James Johnson.  Of those three, I'd rank the value in order - Gibson, Pick, Johnson.  I'm sure the Grizzlies would not move Mayo for Johnson. The Grizzlies have a version of Gibson in Darrell Arthur, so they may not want Gibson, nor would it be wise for the Bulls to trade him.  But the first round pick is intriguing.

Let’s also project that the Bulls will be picking 20th.  The top prospects at that spot are lengthy, hybrid forwards.  Names like Tyler Honeycutt, Trey Thompkins, Jordan Hamilton, CJ Leslie, Chris Singleton and others might be on the board at that point.  Is that a particular need for the Bulls going forward?  Given the current state of the Bulls, those players would be fighting for minimal playing time.  The Bulls have Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Gibson at those spots for the next four-plus years.  Plus, the only shooting guard worth mentioning at that spot looks to be Alec Burks, and he's still raw.

Another issue with this year’s NBA draft is that many experts are labeling it weak due to the uncertainty with the NBA bargaining agreement.  A lot of players may stay in college because of this, and it could hurt the level of talent in the draft. 

The other question is, can the Bulls find enough time for Mayo?  I find it hard to believe that the Bulls would trade Brewer a few months after signing a 3-year deal with the Bulls, and Korver deserves to play, too.  There's a bit of a logjam at that position, and the way Thibideau plays the hot hand, I'm not sure you could guarantee 25+ minutes for Mayo.  

Finally, there's a reason Mayo's been moved to the bench and isn't apart of the projected future of the Grizzlies.  He's not a good enough passer, nor is he fast enough to be a point guard.  He's not known as a good defender and doesn't do much on the boards.  His best attribute is his shooting.  My first question is, after looking at the stats, how much is he better than Kyle Korver?  88% of Mayo's field goals have been jumpers.  Sounds a lot like Kyle Korver.  

By "buying low" on a guy like Mayo, all you're buying is the name.  It wouldn't be a wise investment at the time.  Waiting until closer to the trading deadline could help the Bulls, as teams are going to be looking to cut payroll if they're out of it.  My hope -- the Suns fall out of contention, and the Bulls can make a move for Jason Richardson.  

Regardless, save the pick, resist the temptation and see how far you can go with the three-headed monster at SG.  Make a move when you ultimately have to. 

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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 08 December 2010

Not feeling the best today so this one is going to be quick.  And frankly, there really isn't much to say about this one.

The Bulls won, and that's the main thing.  I'm not concerned by the sloppy play, just disappointed.  The Bulls should have won this game going away, at least by 15 or 20.  There is not one person on the Cavs that would start on the Bulls this year.  They're terrible.  They shoot poorly, play bad defense, don't rebound particularly well, and are slow.  

I'm not ready to put the Bulls into "Best in the East" conversation yet because they play down to the competition.  Once that improves, then we can put them in that discussion.  Free throws almost cost the Bulls the game tonight yet again.  Defense just seems to fall asleep for three or four possessions at a time, too.

Anyways, back to the actual game.  Watching from the fourth quarter on, it felt as if the Bulls were playing 5-on-3.  Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer vs. Cleveland.  Rose had a good game, but a great fourth quarter, willing his team to victory on the road.  Kyle Korver scored 10 straight Bulls points, and he did it from 3, from mid-range and even had a layup.  Ronnie Brewer's best attribute is his activity, and he was very active tonight.  But he also had a near triple-double with 9 points, 8 boards and 6 steals.  I won't mention the 4 turnovers, though.

Other than those three, everyone else played like shit.  Maybe it was the awful weather in Cleveland, maybe it was a trap game.  Either way, Loszach called the close win and the lethargic play.  Hats off to you, and I hope you bet on Cleveland as a reward.

Again, I hate to write negative articles after a win, but neither team really deserved this one.  

My final gripe of the night goes to the fans and media that say Luol is having a great year.  Look, I really like Luol, and I think he's been more active this year, but he's not having a great year.  He's PER is his worst since his rookie year, and that's because he's shooting 68% from the line and 42.5% from the floor.  There are only THREE games where he's shot over 50%.  Three.  He's also getting 6.7 reb per 40 minutes.  Last year, he was at 7.7, and he's playing more minutes 4 this year due to the injury to Boozer early on.  Because the Bulls already get next to nothing from Keith Bogans at SG, Luol Deng needs to be more productive offensively.  It's not about getting him shots, it's about him making the shots he gets.  

On to Friday night, when the Bulls host the Lakers.  We played with them for 43 minutes in LA without Boozer.  Boozer's already made the difference in the rematch with OKC, let's hope he's the difference vs. LA.  Beat LA.  no comments